Time is up for unsafe cranes

You've probably heard the statistic that more than a third of the world's tower cranes are somewhere in Dubai.


You've probably heard the statistic that more than a third of the world's tower cranes are somewhere in Dubai.

I have no idea where that stat actually came from - for a start most sizeable construction projects don't know how many lifters are on their own site, let alone anybody else's. It is fair to say, however, that there are quite a lot.

This obviously leads to a difficulty in inspecting the machines. Even if a crane is inspected, there is at present no way of telling if it has been done properly as there is no unifying standard of inspectors.

Equally, there is no requirement to x-ray, proof load, or otherwise subject the structural points to any kind of material analysis.

On top of that, the people that put up the cranes often have little or no experience of doing such a thing.

All this needs to change as the number of accidents is rising sharply. There are some encouraging signs in that several companies with a lot of experience in the field have set up shop all over the region. It is now possible to have a crane put up safely, properly inspected and the operator trained to modern standards with minimal loss of time.

New and safer cranes are being made available as well, with various types of anti-collision systems that work by using radio sensors, as well as safety features such as 360-degree slewing, being built into the machines themselves. Telehandlers and access platforms too, are many times safer than earlier machines of the type.

However, ancient equipment, a lack of training and the language barrier all conspire to make modernisation a difficult path to follow.

Greg Whitaker is the editor of Plants Machinery Vehicles Middle East.

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